Three tough questions for leaders

I’m working on a book on leadership, framed around the story of Moses, and I am currently writing a chapter on leaders’ need to face criticism. As I have been working through some of the challenges Moses faced in leadership, I have highlighted the following challenging questions that leaders (not least church leaders) may have to deal with from time to time.

How would you answer them?

  • How do you lead when people reject your leadership? This is what Moses was faced with (briefly) when he tried to intervene in a dispute between two Hebrews. It’s a complex question as people’s rejection of your leadership may be for any number of reasons, and not all the reasons may originate with the people. What steps can you take to build (or rebuild) trust? How do you know when it’s time to ask some people to ‘get off the bus’, or even for you, as the leader, to let someone else drive?
  • How do you lead when things are going to get worse before they get better? Again Moses had to face this, this time when his initial intervention, having been commissioned by the Lord, led to the famous ‘bricks without straw’ situation. How do you hold your course when the initial pain of change seems to far outweigh the potential gain?
  • How do you lead when people don’t merely reject you as leader, but it turns out that they have little appetite for trusting God? For Moses it was not long before he and Aaron became the focus of the people’s frustration when they lacked water or food. Moses and Aaron pointed out that the people’s grumbling was not really at them, but at God. While anxiety about food and water was understandable for people trekking the desert, they were quickly failing the test of trust that their wilderness experience constituted.

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